Open-ended: That's how I describe the home where my husband and I now live. Since we purchased our well-worn (shabby-sans-chic) historic house 3 years ago, we have been renovating and restoring. For us, it's a matter of DIY (do it yourself) on a shoestring budget. Despite our busy lives, we've managed to restore a great deal—with a lot of help from our friends. But nothing is finished; nothing is ever finished. If you've ever tried to restore an old home, you know what I mean. Just when you think you can breathe that long-awaited sigh, your eyes follow the wall up to an unsightly gap in the old trim. You decide to cover a radiator and it leads to the need for seat cushions which leads to the need for matching that material to the kitchen chairs which leads to recovering the chairs which leads to reorienting the budget which leads to rethinking the bathroom project entirely, ad infinitum. As Margo Kaufman says, "Remodeling is like pulling a loose thread on a cheap sweater—the job keeps unraveling."
Some say it's hard to live in an unfinished home, that only the untried or the unhinged would choose such a life. Those people would be right. Still, there are upsides to the unfinished abode, like the time we pulled up the living room carpet to find gorgeous original oak floors. For the imaginative spirit, an empty room with creaky doors and peeling wallpaper is not really empty but bursting with possibility! Remodeling—say what you will—offers a wide-open space for the imagination to fly around and have fun.
After much soul-searching, prayer, meditation, and double-dips of butter pecan ice cream, I have finally accepted our house-in-process as a permanent living situation rather than a transitional time to "get through." Kind of like the spiritual life and the nature of reality itself: it's all in process. The sooner we learn to accept this, the more we can relax into the adventure.
In the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy, "O" is for Openness. To be open is to be vulnerable and accepting and curious and inclusive. But to be all these things is to be unapologetically unfinished. We must be willing to accept our souls as open-ended houses: Always open to something new. Always remodeling. Always inviting in new people, new ideas, and new ways of thinking, organizing, and adapting to a changing and challenging world.
The vibrant soul hungers for open doors that bring in fresh air to stir up the imagination. So why not give your imagination space to play by embracing the unfinished self? After all, being always unfinished means that positive change is still possible, not only within ourselves but in our world, in human consciousness, and in our yearnings for justice and environmental well-being. The universe is open! Gloriously so.
Our open-ended souls are connected to each other and to the stars and to the galaxies and to the bumble bee and to God. We constantly adapt to the decisions and movements of others and ourselves, while God fashions fresh possibilities out of all these changes, moment by moment. And so together we grow, restore, re-create, co-create; we find redemption, we make things better—not always, of course, but we give it our best. So, let's stop trying to finish the project we call our self; instead, let's throw open the windows of the soul to the ever-fresh possibilities from heaven's imagination and just go with it. And if you have any spare time, we have some floors that need sanding.